Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: This Year Was Not Boring

I've started the year-end review of records and see that there's a reason why I haven't kept up with some projects and pastimes: and feel frazzled. Here's a brief recap.

Head-On Crash and Sprained Bodies

In January, my wife and #3 daughter were in a head-on car accident just outside Osakis, about 10 miles up the road. They were headed south, another car blew through a stop sign (according to the police report) at the end of an Interstate off-ramp, made wide, fast right turn into my family's van. Snow on the road didn't help.

Happily, the folks in the other car weren't hurt.

My wife and #3 daughter came out with whiplash, what I'll call 'sprained bodies,' and - in the case of my daughter - a broken wrist. That was a bit rough, since #3 daughter is a writer and guitarist. My wife was able to climb a flight of stairs by the end of the month.

Daughter's Wedding

As soon as my wife was able to move around, she started getting things ready for #2 daughter's wedding. That happened in September. And involved making the wedding dress. Those things take more attention than hemming sheets. Happily, my wife is a better seamstress than she lets on - and isn't the sort of person to let a head-on collision stop her.

#2 daughter made the veil, and September 5th she married my new son-in-law.

Thought I Might Lose a Son-In-Law

Then her new husband got "dreadfully sick" as my family's Christmas letter put it. He wasn't able to eat for about a week. What made it scarier was that doctors could tell that he was sick - but couldn't figure out why. Eventually, we celebrated his eating a large chuck of watermelon.

My Father Died

Then my father's health started deteriorating faster.

About a week after I knew that, God willing, I'd keep my new son-in-law for a few more years, at least, my father died.

He's been cremated, as was my mother. Their ashes were mixed, then put in two urns. I buried one in the Red River Valley of the North, near my mother's birthplace,the other in northern Illinois, near my father's. Actually, #3 daughter and her husband, and quite a few other people did most of the work - but at least I was there.

Other Than That - - -

Aside from that, though, not much has happened.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day, 2009

Merry Christmas!

There's more to this day than snow, mistletoe, and "Jingle Bell Rock" More in: There's quite a bit of snow, though. And more coming down.

We've heard from #2 daughter and her husband. He says my wife is his favorite mother-in-law. She insisted that those two get a snowmobile.

They live in the Red River Valley of the North, on the North Dakota side. Some towns are closed down up there, riding out the storm.

The church in town, near their home, wasn't one of the ones that had canceled Christmas Eve Mass - and they made it in, thanks to the snowmobile. They went into the ditch a few times, I understand, and had to get off and walk the snowmobile at least once - but apart from that, the trip was uneventful.

Where roads were parallel with the wind, the going was smooth. Roads at right angles to the wind were drifted in. I'm told that riding over those was a bit like racing over a very choppy lake.

Nothing that exciting happened here. We live in town, so the plow crew has been by - several times - keeping the streets open. My son's cleared the driveway and, I think, sidewalk. At the rate the snow's coming, a plow will probably be by at least once more. Which will put another rampart at the end of the driveway.

Oh, well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snow, Bicycles, Software and Waiting

I'm waiting for software to finish testing a picture I'm trying to get ready for tomorrow. It's a slow process, involving one of the more maddening aspects of the 3D software I use.

But, it's given me time to think. Also, finish Stapleton's "Star Maker" - which relates to another blog. (Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space, mostly) Which I'll be writing about, another day, in that blog.

It's about 4 in the afternoon here, the sun's getting low in the southwest, and the software is still cranking away. There's snow on the ground - barely enough for snowmobiles.

It's been quite a year for this family: a head-on collision - everybody survived, thank God; one daughter married; my father died. I've missed something - no matter.

I was out, almost an hour ago, picking up a prescription, and noticed that a few high schoolers - or maybe junior high students - had used bicycles instead of cars. When I was in high school, back in the sixties, a few kids drove but most walked or used bicycles. Times change. So, apparently, does the amount of disposable income. Riding a bicycle doesn't significantly increase food intake - but gasoline costs money.

Oh, well.

I see the software's almost finished one aspect of the test. Time to see what it's up to now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas"

I remember when Yogi Yorgesson's "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" was allowed on the radio.

Happily, the extended family I married into isn't as dysfunctional as Yogi's apparently was.

On the other hand, I see I've let this blog go unupdated. That's a word my spellchecker says doesn't exist: but you know what I mean, so it stays.

My father-in-law will be over for supper in a few minutes. Barring the unexpected, of course. I'm looking forward to that - but it means that I've a bit less time to get tasks done.

The good news is that I printed off enough of the Christmas letter - and most of the address labels. Then I ran out of label stock.

Like the song says, "I yust go nuts at Christmas."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Still in Mourning?

The holiday season has never been a particularly good for me.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy the holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. But, as my wife said once, I get a bit crazy around this season. And, this is the season when I'm most likely to come down with some bug.

A few years ago, I discovered what may be a large part of the explanation: my mother had the major stoke during the Christmas season, when I was in 7th grade. I don't remember the incident, at all, but the odds are that it affected me: and at some level I probably remember in general terms when it happened.

So, this year my wife and #3 daughter were involved in a head-on collision. They both survived, but my daughter's wrist is still healing - and I insist on being hopeful that she'll regain her skill on the guitar.

Then #2 daughter got married, and my father died. The last happened toward the end of September.

I've been dragging myself to the task of getting some must-do tasks done, but don't need to look at my records to know that I've been less productive than usual. And, I may be coming down with something. Again. Or, what I had a month ago is still with me.

And, this week, I realized that I'm probably still "in mourning" over the death of my father. As I've said before, he's a hard act to follow, and I miss him. A lot.

But, God willing, I've probably still got a few decades left.

And, apparently, I'm getting back to - normal?

As evidence, I submit that I am about 2.56 gigabytes of space on the C drive, having backed up a few photos. That may not seem like much, but it took an act of will for me to get going on that little project. And, resolve a technical issue I've had for a few months with one of the backup devices.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Staying Inside Seems Like a Good Idea

Good news: I fell better today. More specifically, I can get mildly interested in the idea of being alive.

Bad news: Apparently I'm not over whatever I've got. My temp's about 99.8 - which is high, even for me.

So, plans change: I'm staying in this afternoon. It's a gray day, anyway. And dark. People were driving with the lights on, around noon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I have Definitely Felt Better Than This - And Worse

My temperature went over 100 late this afternoon. That was good news, in a way: not I've got an idea of why I feel the way I do. And, whatever is wrong inside: my immune system is doing its job.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that, despite 11 hours of sleep last night, I feel extremely tired.

And I still have a time-sensitive task or three to do.

Oh, well: "It could be worse."

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Startling Case of the Rabbit, the Refrigerator, and the Notepad

Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, had quite a fright this evening. As he was stretching out to a more relaxed position under a kitchen chair, a notepad fell off the refrigerator.

It's amazing, how fast a rabbit can get on his feet.

I don't think he's too traumatized, though: he's settled down again, chin and the tips of his ears on the floor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rain, Coffee, Family and Scrabble

I'm caught up, in another blog (Apathetic Lemming of the North), from that trip to Chicago - about a month after our return. The skies wouldn't fall if I didn't keep up that 'three posts a day' quota I set for that blog: but it doesn't hurt to maintain the flow, either.

#2 daughter and her husband are still here - playing Scrabble with my wife and #3 daughter this evening. The newly-married couple were out during quite a bit of the middle part of the day. At least part of the time was spent having lunch with the Sauk Centre grandfather.

I picked up meds at the Melrose clinic this afternoon, and passed a pleasant hour at Jitters Java when I got back to Sauk Centre. It was a good day to stay inside and drink coffee: not warm, overcast and, while I was out, raining.

My son and I, as usual, ended his day with Garfield and a song.

#2 daughter and my new son-in-law have been taping here in the north room and elsewhere - again, for that documentary. And they're at it again, reading from the "Screwtape Letters" and discussing the day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Son-in-Law's Birthday

Another day of "October's bright blue weather" - in November - and I stayed in all day. On the up side, I got the day's tasks done - with time left over to enjoy #2 daughter and my new son-in-law. And their dog, Sprocket: a somewhat over-bred and quite friendly English Sheepdog.

It's his birthday, today, so we threw a (very) little party for him: a cake with candles, the 'happy birthday' song, and a few presents. Then we talked about his video equipment, and watched the New Orleans Saints' game.

I bowed out of the game a bit early, which explains those completed tasks.

It was good to see those two. They're passing through, on their way to a tour of the eastern third of the country: filming a documentary of some sort.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Night: Wrapping Up

I'm getting ready to wrap thing up for the day. My son and I finished reading Garfield and singing a few minutes ago, my wife and #3 daughter are watching "The A Team" in the living room, and Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit is relaxed on the kitchen floor. He's had, by my count, a celery stick, two carrot sticks, and an application of his foot medicine today. That's on top of his standard rabbit rations.

He liked the food, but not the medicine. Can't say that I blame him, but it seems to be doing good for him - the sore spot on his foot is much reduced.

My son's friend is done with that H1N1 flu - and glad to have it over and done with. He was over here this week, for the better part of an afternoon.

It's been a good day.

I wish I felt better, though: I've missed grilling this weekend. Well, as we say in Minnesota, "it could be worse."

Day After Halloween

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I'm in the north room, enjoying sunshine and blue sky, and getting a little organizing done. As soon as I wrap up this post, I'll be joining the rest of the family, in the living room.

On the way, I'll give Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, a celery stick.

It's the first day after daylight savings time ended for the year - so I'm enjoying (experiencing, anyway) the government-mandated jet lag we're treated to each March and October. (More at "Daylight Saving Time Strikes Again" Apathetic Lemming of the North (March 8, 2009))

Last night was Halloween. Not as many trick-or-treaters have been coming around in recent years, for whatever reason. One youngster came in the traditional sheet with two holes cut in it: and at least one set of teenagers came without costumes. When they found out we were handing out money, they told #3 daughter that they should come back with costumes, for more.

It's not that we were giving away large amounts of cash. We'd grab a small handful of pennies and nickles for each visitor. The total couldn't have been more than around 15¢ or 20¢ each. Even so, the typical response was something like, "oh boy, money!"

I've missed grilling this weekend: whatever I've got isn't all that bad, but it wouldn't be prudent to stand outside by a grill. Fun, yes. A good idea, no.

Well, it's time to feed the rabbit and join the family.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Heat's Back!

As of a few minutes ago, the furnace is up and running again. I understand that a filter was too dirty - well, it's been a hectic summer and fall. I'm just glad it's working again.

No Heat from the Furnace

Yesterday evening we noticed that the furnace fan was working, but no heat was coming out. My wife called the service company, and I trust that someone will be coming out this morning to take a look. And, I hope, fix the thing.

It's a bit frustrating. We had that furnace checked out before the heating season started, and it was okay then.

At least this happened before it got too cold out. It's right around the freezing point outside, and a comparatively balmy 63° here at the computer.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rain, Snow, and October's Bright Blue Weather

It's been raining for days.

Now it's snowing.

No wonder I'm feeling the way I have been.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So Much For Relaxing

Ha! That "relaxing for the rest of the evening" turned into a post about Halloween rants. ("Halloween's Coming: Why aren't I Ranting?" (A Catholic Citizen in America (October 29, 2009)).

What can I say? I noticed that part of my mind was starting on a topical post, and decided to give more attention to the project.


It rained yesterday.

It rained today.

Looks like it'll rain tomorrow.

That's what "October's bright blue weather" is, fairly often, here in central Minnesota. The weather isn't helping me feel perky - and I think I've got something in the neighborhood of a cold. NotH1N1 - not that I've had tests taken, but it's acting like a cold.

Aside from that, things are going pretty well. I'm getting back on track with my daily schedule, most of the family is at Soo Bahk Do class right now, and I'm looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"October's Bright Blue Weather" - Ha!

Another day: I took the van out, mostly to see why the heater wasn't running properly. It was, when I tried it. While I was out, I took a picture of downtown for today's Sauk Centre Journal entry. We've had drizzle struggling to be rain most of the day.

Which may explain why I feel as listless as I do.

Oh, well.

#1 daughter's rabbit got his foot medication again this evening - under protest. As soon as I post this, I'll prepare an apple core for him. And, some time after that read Garfield with my son.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(Some) Blue Sky, Sunshine, Wind and Windows 7

My son is still enthralled by Windows 7 - although not as excitedly as yesterday.

I took a few minutes off this afternoon to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I'd have been out longer, but it was also windy - and I had work to do.

The family had my father-in-law over for supper, I fed #1 daughter's rabbit a celery stick later in the evening, and Giol the rabbit has gotten his foot medication applied.

It's a good life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows 7: My Son Installed it Today

My son's 'Windows 7' package arrived today. He met the mailman on his way to the door.

Excited? You could say that. My son made a videotape of his opening of the package - complete with narration.

By now, 6:40 p.m., he's gotten it installed on his laptop - with only one glitch that I know of. A font he'd designed didn't get backed up. On the upside, he knows how he created it, and has some of the source files - but he'll have to re-build it if he wants to use it again.

Still, for an upgrade like that: he's had a very smooth time.

It helped that he's been doing backups and other prep for maybe a week now.

Did I mention that he's excited?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Evening: A Rabbit, Medication, Routines and Rain

My wife and son are getting medicine on Giol's foot as I start writing this. It's a daily ritual we'll continue until the prescribed treatment's over.

Giol - #1 daughter's rabbit - does not like the treatment, but handles it rather well (aside from covering an eye with his paw). until the medicine touched the sore spot. Then he kicked - vigorously.

Now he's getting a treat - somewhat in the manner of a child at the dentist's.

Soon, my son and I will be reading Garfield and singing that song.

It's been a gray, rainy day here in Sauk Centre: I went out this afternoon to take some photos for a Sauk Centre Journal entry.

Aside from that, and the usual research and writing, it's been a fairly normal day. Except that I slept until almost noon. I sincerely hope I'm not coming down with something.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Cores, Linoleum, and a Rabbit

Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, seems to be feeling better. We (my wife and son) have been applying his medication (he's got a sore foot) nightly. Under protest, but it gets on him anyway.

I had two apple cores ready for him: one quite fresh. As I got up to give him the first (and freshest) one, he started running towards me, in the kitchen. His leash is attached to a chair leg, to keep him out of (too much) trouble. When he got to the end of his tether, he kept running on the linoleum - but of course made no headway.

He did drift slightly eastward, though.

Giol's gotten quite good at hopping on his rear feet and balancing, to get vegetable treats from us. Either that, or he has us well trained.

H1N1 Virus in Minnesota People: Including the Family

I just now learned that one of my nieces has H1N1 / swine flu. She's resting, getting medication, and all that - happily, she seems to be able to get her studies done outside the classroom.

Not good news, but it could be worse.

October's Dull Gray Weather; Winter Preparations; and a Fine Son

I like my daughters, too: but you'll see why I put a spotlight on my son in the headline, later.

"October's bright blue weather" is gone, again: replaced with shifting patterns of gray on gray overhead. Hardly surprising: Minnesota's weather is notoriously varied. The forecast for Friday's changed, too. Now we're supposed to expect sunshine and clouds - just like Thursday's forecast shifted from a promise of overcast and rain to "partly cloudy."

This household's getting ready for winter. My wife and kids lifted the air conditioner out of the window where it spend the summer. It's resting on the floor behind my chair at the moment. That was, if memory serves, yesterday.

My wife also put up the curtains we have at the bottom of the stairs leading to the second floor, and between the sort of micro-hall at the bottom of the stairs and the living room. They help control drafts, and let us keep the ground floor at comfortable temperatures, while letting the second floor run a bit cooler.

I was going to accomplish things today, including getting to the Harvest Graces Mass this morning.

You May Not Want to Read This Part

Then, as I was getting ready to take that Knights of Columbus bulletin to the post office, I didn't quite get to the bathroom in time. By the time my son noticed the smell, I'd cleaned the worst of it off the floor, and washed myself in the shower - and giving the clothes I'd been wearing a first-rinse while I was there.

Disgusting. Rather.

That's My Boy!

Then my wife called. She'd come back, with #3 daughter, from driving my father-in-law to Alex for a medical procedure. The operation went well, I'm told. I also learned that she wanted me to pick her up.

No problem. I'd stay in the van, the ladies would come out, and then would carry the bulletin and paperwork into the post office building.

By the time I was walking toward the garage, I saw my son with a bucket of soapy water, heading for the bathroom. Unbidden, without prompting, and quite on his own, he'd decided to clean up what was left of the mess.

"That's my boy!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday: October's Bright Blue Weather; a Mouse Trap; and Duct Tape

I've wrapped up as much of the paperwork for a local Knights of Columbus bulletin's mailing that I'll get done tonight. I expect to get it in the mail tomorrow.

By which time it'll probably be raining.

October provided some of its 'bright blue weather' today. The skies weren't perfectly clear, but at least there was blue around the clouds. I got out for part of the afternoon, took photos for this Wednesday's Sauk Centre Journal, and had two cups of coffee at Jitters Java, downtown.

All in all, it's been a pretty good day.

We've set out mouse traps of the 'live trap' variety. So far, the mouse has shown a talent for springing them without going inside. We'll be looking for another kind of trap.

Now, about that duct tape.

As I was walking through the kitchen, my wife told me to stop.

Over a quarter century of marriage may not have taught me much, but I have learned that when my wife generally asks me to do things. When she tells me to do something, she's got a really good reason - and I'll agree, once I understand what it is.

So I stopped.

She told to turn, pointing toward the table.

So I turned, noticing that she'd gotten out a roll of duct tape.

My wife then pressed the end of the duct tape to the table at my right, walked behind me, pressed the duct tape to the table to my left, and tore the roll off from the loop she'd made.

Then, when she had me duct-taped to the table, she told me that I couldn't leave until I'd written a note to someone I'd been supposed to write - but had kept forgetting to do.

So I wrote the note.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Catching Up, a Mouse, and Looking Forward to the Weekend

I'm still getting caught up with my work, but since I'm my own boss there hasn't been too much trouble explaining the situation to myself.

On a less schizophrenic note, #3 daughter spotted a mouse (we think) skittering across the living room floor. I think it was as spooked as she was. We'll be dealing with that situation in the morning. It's that time of year, when critters start finding their way inside. Earlier this week, I found a boxelder bug in the bathroom. They're not near the top of my list of cute-and-cuddly creatures. It's the way those blood-red eyes glow, when the light's at a certain angle, I think.

Right now, I'm wrapping up the day's tasks - and looking forward to grilling lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working With My Son-in-Law, Catching Up on Writing, and - Good Grief! Half an Hour to Finish Another Task!

Earlier this evening, I spent a moderately-productive hour with my son-in-law, trying to work around a software purchase issue he had. His part of the Red River Valley of the North is getting snow, and his Internet connection is down. We think he'll be up and running - when he can get back online.

I don't mind spending the time: it was worth a try, and I learned a bit in the process. And, my son and I will catch up on reading Garfield tomorrow, I trust.

I've been catching up on one of my blogs (Apathetic Lemming of the North): not caught up, but making progress. At this I'll be up to quota by the end of the weekend.

The local Knights of Columbus bulletin needs a 'special issue' (actually, the November issue, mailed about two weeks early) - which will keep me occupied Friday, at least.

Apart from that, I've got a mess of photos I took while we were in northern Illinois to sort through.

And, I realize, about a half hour left to do today's entry of the Sauk Centre Journal.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Being Home is Good

I'm back.

I buried the other half of my father and mother Friday, in the Hulse cemetery near Pecatonica, Illinois. And, had a brief but good get-together with family.

Saturday and Sunday, various portions of the family saw Chicago's Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. I was at the planetarium and aquarium - and hope to write something about them. Not tonight.

We flew back today, arriving only a few hours late. Airlines flying into Minneapolis International were delayed from snow in the morning, and were playing catch-up for the rest of the day.

But, journeys come to an end: and this one saw us back here in Sauk Centre, about twenty, twenty-five minutes ago.

#2 daughter & my new son-in-law decided to head on to their home in the Red River Valley of the North. He's got a video shoot to do, tomorrow afternoon, and I understand the reasons for their wanting to spend the night (what's left of it) in their own home.

I've gotten a webcam back online, and hope I can turn in soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

That's It: I'm Giving Myself a Vacation.

I've mentioned this before: September was an unusually, ah, interesting month. No complaints - but I'm bushed.

I plan to take the weekend and Monday off: which means no Sauk Centre Journal entry on Sunday, and no posts on Apathetic Lemming of the North Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. I plan to be 'back to work' Tuesday - with some serious catch-up to do on the 'Lemming' blog.

One of my son's friends has H1N1 flu, which brought that situation much closer to home. It's going to be a long flu season, I'm afraid: subjectively if not objectively.

It's late. Or, more accurately, it's early. Goodnight!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Hit With Unusual Severity This Week

I'm wrapping up the day - and may leave a task or two undone, in the interests of getting a reasonable night's sleep.

I was up ridiculously late last night, again, but got that Knights of Columbus council bulletin to the printer's this morning. They got it printed & delivered this afternoon. (Main Street Printers, downtown Sauk Centre - I've worked with them for over 20 years on one project or another - they're a good bunch for getting the job done.)

My wife and #3 daughter put labels on the bulletins, so I'll be able to do the mailing paperwork tomorrow.

It's been raining, off and on, all day - and the streets are still wet. Again, I don't mind. It does set a sort of mood for the day, though.

Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, had his 'people' time in the kitchen again this evening. Aside from being around us and a little light socializing - talking to him, rubbing his head, that sort of thing - I fed him a couple apple cores and a few broccoli heads.

That rabbit gets along pretty well, I'd say. He's gotten quite good at hopping on his find feet - his balance on two feet has improved enormously since he arrived. Since we give him his treats by holding them where he needs to 'stand up' to reach them, he's had a pretty good incentive to learn.

My son and I read Garfield and sang this evening, as usual.

I love this family.

Two Double Funerals: Efficient, Appropriate, and a Trifle Intense

In a few minutes, I hope to be talking to a couple of newspapers in northern Illinois, where my father's and mother's cremains ("cremated remains") will be interred - God willing - later this week.

For a number of good reasons, I've got the responsibility of deciding just what sort of obituary my parents will have. Happily, most of the work's already done. I've posted my father's obit. earlier, and decided to go with what appeared in a North Dakota paper, for my mother's. Here's hers:

Dorothy Gill

Dorothy passed away on Saturday, February 23, 2008 at the Hillsboro Medical Center Nursing Home at the age of 94.

Dorothy Marie Hovde was born on May 14, 1913, the daughter of Ole and Gunda (Olson) Hovde. She grew up on the family homestead just west of Hillsboro. She received her education from Hillsboro High School in 1930. She then furthered her education at the University of Minnesota where she majored in English and minored in Music. Dorothy also earned a graduate music degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. In the 1930s and 1940s she taught piano and violin in the Grand Forks area as a member of the Northwest Music Academy. She then earned graduate library service degrees from the University of Illinois. She worked in the Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA) library.

While at the University of Illinois she met her future husband, Bernard Gill. They were united in marriage in August of 1949 in Hillsboro, ND. They moved to Moorhead, Minnesota in 1950 where they lived until 1983. Dorothy was very active in her church where she taught Sunday school and was also active in the American Association of University Women. Upon Bernard's retirement, they moved to Dorothy's family farm west of Hillsboro, ND.

Dorothy, is survived by her husband, Bernard of Hillsboro; her son, Brian (Catherine) Gill of Sauk Centre, MN; and her grandchildren, Naomi, Sara, Deborah and Peter Gill.

Apart from the spelling of a name, and a bit of punctuation, that's from the Grand Forks Herald, Sunday, March 2, 2008. The rest of the obituary - a few lines - read: "A memorial service will be held at a later date" and that arrangements were done by the Wildeman Funeral Home in Hillsboro.

That "later date" turned out to be a year later, which I think was appropriate, under the circumstances. Both my mother and father's bodies were cremated, their ashes (more like cinders, actually) commingled, and put in two urns.

Last week, we interred one urn in the soil of a cemetery near Hillsboro, North Dakota. This week, I'll be seeing to the interment of the other urn in northern Illinois.

Two double funerals about a week apart is a fairly intense experience, I've discovered. I teared up, getting these last few paragraphs written.

Hats off, by the way, to everyone I dealt with at the Wildeman Funeral Home, in Hillsboro: I deeply appreciate the way they handled this rather protracted set of procedures. And, to my father: for setting nearly all of this up with them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I had a hard time getting to sleep Thursday and Friday night: up until around 4:30 and 5:00. I'm not some forty-year-old kid any more, and I'm not at all sure how long I could keep that up.

Nor to I intend to find out.

The only item I've got left on today's task list is writing this post - after which I'll be turning in.

The fact of my father's death is rather central in my mind just now. Understandably, I suppose. I'm 'between funerals' at the moment: there's a second one next week, in northern Illinois, where my father grew up.

I've said, often enough, that he's a hard act to follow. In the old days, I'd now be "the Gill" in this part of the world - the oldest adult man in my line in the general area. Times have changed, but I'm still the father of this family - even though I didn't go to my father often for counsel, it was good to know that I could.

Now, all I have to work with are my own memories and whatever wisdom I've scraped together over the years.

One thing about my father that I may never surpass is his ability to talk with people. I don't know if it's a product of the thirty-year head start he has on me, or if there's something about him that didn't show up in me.

Oh, well.

On a more mundane and immediate level, I grilled three burgers today, fed Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, an apple core, and have now caught up with my task list.

Good night.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

11:17 - the Phone Rings

Right around 11:17 this evening, #2 daughter and her husband called me and sang "happy birthday" to me.

Awww! That was about as good a day-brightener as a man could ask for.

Thanks, you all.

September's Just About Over: It's Been a Big Month

It's been quite a month for me. As I mentioned in another blog, So far
  • My second-oldest daughter got married
  • My father's condition took a turn for the worse
  • My new son-in-law got really, really, sick
    • Couldn't eat
    • A scary several days
  • My son-in-law got better
  • My father got worse
    • Lots worse
  • My father died
  • I buried my father and mother's remains yesterday
    • Half of them
    • They were cremated
      • I'll be seeing the other half buried
        • In northern Illinois
        • Next month
With about two and a half hours left of September, I'm hoping that there aren't any more major events. But, we'll see what happens.

My son and I finished reading Garfield and singing that song a few minutes ago; #1 daughter's rabbit, Giol, has been up for his 'people time' - and gone through two apple cores and a celery stick of respectable size; the family watched "Road to El Dorado" (2000) this evening - a real treat; and I enjoyed having a birthday with the family.

I love this bunch.

Aside from that, and discovering that I was running a fever, it's been an unusually quiet day. Knowing about that fever is a relief, in a way: at least I know why I'm feeling the way I do. Hey: it's a useful reminder to eat sensibly, exercise in moderation, and get to sleep at a decent time. I'm hoping to get achieve at least 2 of those three goals today. Well, one, anyway.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Giol, #1 Daughter's Rabbit; and "Just Your Average Small Town America Household"

Just your average middle-class small town American household: nothing out of the ordinary about us.

Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, under the back stoop: his new favorite place outside.

Giol has this "cute" thing down cold.

As #1 daughter observed: from this angle, Giol looks like a fuzzy eggplant. With ears.

Caught in the act! The infamous "chips" incident.

Two Van Lights, My Son, and My Father

I drove the van to the north side of Sauk Centre this afternoon, to get a new headlight and brake light put in. While I was up there, I took a look around - there may be new construction at the baseball diamond up there. Either that, or I don't remember what the place is like. Which isn't all that unlikely.

I've been a bit distracted lately.

My son and I, as usual, read Garfield - today's strip and three weeks' of strips - online, and sang a song my father sang to me: or something rather like it. That's a pleasant routine. The two of us have been reading the daily and Sunday strips of the Garfield website: three weeks (or so) a night. By now we're back to 1991.

I'd write more about what's been going on: but as I said, I've been a bit distracted.

Or fuzzy, at any rate. I knew my father's death was coming - and inevitable. I've wept, now and again, but was a bit concerned at the apparent lack of intense emotion I'd been experiencing. This morning, I had a rather satisfactory bout of grief. Not that I enjoyed it, but at least I can assume that it's not building up pressure, until I have a sort of emotional Mount St. Helens eruption.

And, on that cheerful (?) note, I bid you goodnight.

Death, Love, Duty and Endurance

Good heavens: another day gone by. I think I've done everything I need to, getting ready for my father and mother's funeral service. It's been some time since she died, but I think my father wanted their services done together.

Whatever I've learned about the nuts and bolts of love, the bulk of it I learned from him. His love for my mother was intense and durable. Although there was, I'm sure, a great deal of emotion involved, it's what he did as the decades wore on that impressed me.

Over a quarter-century ago now, a young woman - her name was Eve - asked me how I would define love. I replied, describing the commitment, the will to endure, the sense of duty, the ongoing acts of service. When I wound down, she observed that what I said sounded "cold."

I see her point.

And, love that endures is, in a sense, cold; sometimes devoid of that rushing warmth that contemporary culture often calls "love" - regardless of the degree of connection or commitment involved.

By my definitions, love is cold and hard: cold and strong as steel, hard, enduring - and beautiful - as diamond.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Soo Bahk Do, My Daughter's Rabbit, and Funeral Arrangements

We went to Mass this morning, I grilled burgers for lunch - not incinerating them for the second time this weekend - and I enjoyed the company of #1 daughter and her rabbit Giol while grilling. The rain held off until after I was inside, for which I'm duly grateful.

My wife was surprised that I didn't ache after this afternoon's nap - I'd been sitting on the couch. When #1 daughter called her in - I'll get to 'why' shortly - I was still sitting, from the waist down. The upper part of me was lying down on the couch, at quite an angle.

I think my trick hips may have encouraged me to retain an unusual suppleness everywhere else. When I think about it, a guy in his upper fifties generally doesn't get away with stunts like that.


#1 daughter My Wife had called my wife #1 daughter in to report a bag-chewing in progress. Giol had found, and broken open, a bag of corn chips. He'd eaten at least one by the time the ladies stopped him. That's an enterprising rabbit. My wife says he's too cute to get mad at: I see her point.

The ladies and my son went to Soo Bahk Do class tonight. My wife helped one of the other students prepare for an upcoming test. The exercises include defenses against a (simulated) knife attack.

Since the attack is supposed to be a 'surprise,' my wife used several different techniques - at least one of which involved holding the (simulated) knife so that the blade would get in the way of conventional defenses. The student was, indeed, surprised, and thanked her - the fellows he usually practiced with weren't anywhere near as imaginative. Or is it innovative?

As I've said before about this family: It's a good thing we're honest.

Funeral arrangements for my father and mother are progressing about as smoothly as I could expect. I've been in touch with a relative down in the west-of-Chicago area, who's handling the bulk of arrangements there.

He told me a bit more about my father - I'll be trying to get all of the information organized.

My father is a very high act to follow - quite a man.

Requiescat In Pace, Bernard Ives Gill

One of my kinsmen wrote a sort of obituary notice for my father. Here's a revised version:

Bernard Ives Gill 16 May 1921 - 25 September 2009.

Bernard Ives Gill died peacefully in his sleep at about 1:40 Friday morning.

He was born at the family farm on Cunningham Road, rural Winnebago, Illinois. His siblings were born at the same location. The family moved to Rockford in 1929. He completed his high school education, being in the last class to graduate from Rockford 'Central' High. He went to University of Illinois, becoming an educator and specializing as a librarian. He served in the US Navy in WW II, serving on an LST in and around Europe, and later served in the south Pacific.

He continued his career in education, and served several years as head of the University library at University of Minnesota Moorhead, Minnesota. Upon retirement, he moved with his wife to Hillsboro, North Dakota, and settled on the Hovde ancestral farm.

Predeceased by his parents; Richard Hackett Gill and Floss Campbell (Gill), and his siblings; Barbara Adeline (Burns), Helen Margaret (Campbell)(Conley), Mary Alice (Healy), and Richard H Gill Jr.

He is also predeceased by his wife, Dorothy Marie Hovde.

Survived by his son, Brian and four grandchildren. Brian and his wife Catherine have four children: Naomi Marie, Deborah Marie, Sara Marie, and Peter Michael.

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
- - -
Related post:

That's My Boy! Software in Beta, With its First Patch

It's almost time to go to Mass.

My 13-year-old son, talking to someone else in the family, said that he'd released a beta version of a piece of software he's developed - and just released a patch for it.

He calles it "B.I.O.S." For Bionicle Information Operation System: Someone called it an interactive encyclopedia - about Lego's Bionicles.

"That's my boy!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Upcoming Funeral, Grilling Burgers, and a Really Long Nap

We've set the date of my father's funeral: next Tuesday, the 29th. My wife has been doing the bulk of scheduling, but I've pitched in by fielding a phone call or two.

My father's death still doesn't, sometimes, seem real. On the other hand, those flashes of memory are still popping up: a song he sang; the habit he had of having Boots, the cat, wave 'goodnight' to me - a gentle bit of puppetry, that; sharpening a hatchet on a spinning stone in the garage. Good memories.

'Don't be sad because something's over: be happy because it happened' is a rough paraphrase of something he told his grandchildren when visits were over. I'm hoping one of them remembers the words better than I do.

Today hasn't been all remembrance and mourning. #1 daughter's here, I grilled lunch - and didn't incinerate the burgers - and more must have happened.

What started out as a short nap ended by my sleeping right up to supper time, so I'm a bit hazy on what all went on today. It'll take doing to tame my sleeping schedule.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Funeral, Fax, and my Father's Voice

I'm just about caught up with today's usual tasks. Well, I'm not that far behind, anyway. I've still got several posts to write: and not all that much of today left to write them in. Even with as much taken care of ahead of time as there was, and a seasoned funeral home taking care of details, there's a surprising number of decisions to make.

My father's death this morning made it a distinctly non-typical Friday. I've talked to several people connected with the funeral home in the town where he spent his last days, been to a local bank to pick up form, sign it, and get it faxed back, and been peripherally involved with getting in touch with family, to relay the news.

That form was three pages, plus cover memo, requiring several of my initials and a signature - detailing how my father's cremation would be handled. It was pretty straightforward, compared to some of what I've had to deal with over the years: but it still required a phone call to clarify one point: about what happened to his glasses and other 'attached' stuff.

Not the cheeriest thing to contemplate, but necessary. And, I'm the person who's in the position to sign off on the document.

One of the bright spots today, for me, was a moment in one of the conversations with someone up in the Red River Valley of the North. I'd been talking over disposition of the body with one of the (directors, I think) at the funeral home. He was telling me what needed to be done, including this form. I could tell by his tone, as he told me that the form he would fax to me was three pages long, that he reasonably thought this might seem daunting.

Being what and who I am, I assured him: "I love to read!" He told me I sounded very much like my father right after that.

I believe it. There was a time, when I was in my teens, that he'd left a tape recorder on while we talked. Listening to the tape later, the only way we could tell who was saying what was by our memory of the conversation. I suppose our voices drifted a bit since then, but not - it seems - all that much.

I like that.

My Father's Death, Funeral Arrangements, the Furnace and a Headlight

We're making arrangements for my father's funeral - he died at about 1:40 this morning. I've signed documents authorizing his cremation, read the will, and talked with my children and wife about this transition.

I've also noticed that the family van's right headlight is burned out; researched and wrote a post for another blog; checked the calendar to see when I need to get the next Knights of Columbus council bulletin out; and realized that I didn't mention the furnace technician who came yesterday morning.

Yes, my father's death this morning is a pretty big deal: and I've teared up a few times since hearing about it. But everything else keeps happening, too.

As if to match my mood, the sky's been cloudy and it's been raining most of the day.

About the furnace: That was a routine, annual, once-over to make sure that it was in good working order for the heating season. And we're good to go for winter. So far.

Without trying to, I've had memories of my father popping up as I work: 'pictures' of our playing Frisbee; times in my childhood when we'd spend a quiet time together - I'd be reading in an old overstuffed chair while he was at his desk in the basement, generally reading something too; talking with him.

Like we say: 'Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual help shine upon him.'

Noted: The Death of My Father

My father died at about 1:40 this morning. Peacefully, I'm told.

He's a good man: and a very hard act to follow.

Next step for me is to see that family at this end is alerted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soo Bahk Do, Another Day With My Family: And My Father's Dying

Another day's just about over. My wife, #3 daughter, and son went to Soo Bahk Do class this evening and returned in good spirits.

On a less chipper note, we learned this morning that my father is unresponsive: he doesn't respond to touch, and appears to be unconscious. Also, circulation in the outer parts of his arms and legs appears to be much less than before.

Odds are that he'll die in a matter of hours or days. Weeks? Probably not.

Happily, #2 daughter and my son-in-law are just a few miles away from him, up in the Red River Valley of the North. That's a comfort.

I would like to be up there, but there are logistic considerations - and family here to consider, too.

I understand and accept that death is the only way we can reasonably expect our lives to end: but that doesn't mean that I feel good about it.

I ran across a couple of prayers in "The Catholic prayerbook: from Downside Abbey," David Foster, T&T Clark Ltd (1999):

"O Lord, you have made us very small, and we bring our years to an end like a tale that is told; help us to remember that beyond our brief day is the eternity of your love.
"Reinhold Niebuhr"

"Grant, Lord, that we may not set our mind on earthly things but love the things of heaven; and that even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, we may cleave to the things that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Leonine Sarcramentary"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday: Well, We Needed the Rain

We got a phone call from the Red River Valley of the North. It was a good news/bad news sort of call.

First, the bad news: As of this morning, my father can no longer swallow. So, no more food or water can go in. We've had some false alarms before, but I think there's a good chance that sometime soon - in the next hours, days, or - maybe - weeks, my father's life will end.

I don't like the idea. At all.

But I don't have to like it: Reality being what it is, death comes at the end of life. That's the way it is. What we make of that fact is what makes a difference. More of that in another blog's post.

I was shaky for an hour or so after hearing the news: needing to pay more attention to how I walked. Even my hands weren't as steady as they normally are, and I started a credible Elmer Fudd impression once.

Now, the good news.

My son-in-law is feeling a lot better. He'd come down with something, seen a doctor, and missed a radio appearance: but that's in the past, and it looks like he's very much on the mend.

Back here in Sauk Centre, I've noticed that I'm sometimes going up the stairs without gripping the rail - and once realized that I was only touching it at intervals. It's not many fifty-something guys who are experience a fairly rapid improvement in their physical abilities.

Those artificial hip joints are great: I'm back in the habit of walking places - withing about three or four blocks, anyway.

This afternoon I walked down to the Coborn's / Ace Hardware block. Since the hummingbirds have left for the season, I picked up a little "tray" - it actually looks more like a cage - that holds blocks of birdseed. And, a block to go in it. The seeds are picked with finches in mind: My guess is that the sparrows and chickadees will dig in, too.

The birdseed block is a clever product: the thistle seed, sunflower seed chips, red millet, flax seed and the rest is held together with a bit of gelatin, honey, and dextrose. My guess is that I could make something like it at home. Maybe next year.

I got the birdseed set out, a few feet from my webcam, so folks should have something to watch over the winter. The webcam looks out the window by my computer, so I'll be able to watch directly now and again.

We got roughly an eighth of an inch yesterday: which was welcome. I'd been hoping for more rain today. But, there's still time before winter to dampen the soil.

Related posts:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another Day, For Which I am Duly Grateful

It's dark out, my wife is watching television with #3 daughter, my son and I have read Garfield and sung, as is our habit, and I'm about to turn in. It's been a good day.

Besides catching up on the weekend's tasks, I saw a doctor - psychiatrist, actually - for a four-month checkup. I'm doing well, so the medications stay the same, and it'll be six months before the next scheduled visit. That 'major depression' diagnosis was, in its own way, the best news I'd had in years. Particularly since there are effective ways of treating it now.

I drove around Sauk Centre, getting a few photos for tomorrow's Sauk Centre Journal, and put gas in the van, on my way back. Getting gas was a little more eventful than usual. The pump I tried to use first kept flashing "47" at me. The folks inside couldn't get it to work, so I circled around and refilled at another pump. Happily, I was in no hurry - so it was a chance to say 'hi' to some of the people there.

My son's getting along with home schooling so far - after two whole days. He practiced his trombone again today. Upstairs, mercifully. He's learning, but it's not exactly a quiet instrument.

Grilling Steak for Supper, Yesterday

I almost forgot - yesterday, my wife asked me if I'd like to grill steak for supper.

After a grill-less weekend? You bet!

They came out pretty well - which I suspect is as much due to the meat selected, as to my efforts.

It's occurred to me that grilling burgers and steaks is a socially-acceptable way to 'play with your food.'

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday: Back Home and Glad of It

My wife, all four kids, and my new son-in-law, went up to the Red River Valley of the North on Friday to visit my father. It had to be short, since he has the dickens of a time getting oxygen in - but 'a good time was had by all.'

Well, pretty much all. As one of the kids put it, "I want to go home now." Can't say that I blame her.

Still, I'm glad we went.

My wife, #2 daughter and #3 daughter put on the dresses they'd worn at #2 daughter's wedding the previous Saturday. A festive touch, I think.

Thanks to a laptop computer, we were able to show my father photos from the wedding, and of the house. Some of my new (nieces-in-law??) and their parents were out there recently - and loved the place. That seems to happen, once folks go there.

My family, and the new couple, went to Mass Saturday afternoon. I found out that #2 daughter has volunteered to provide music for that Mass. Good news: music and singing add a lot. I think, anyway.

I had several hours of time with #1 daughter - and her rabbit - on the drive up and back. Which was also a good thing.

Today, #3 daughter and my son started home school. She's tutoring him on English, under direction from my wife. So far, after one day, it's working out rather well.

At this moment, a few minutes after 9:00 p.m., #1 daughter's rabbit is in the kitchen, being fed a half-stick of celery by my wife. Our son is sitting on the floor next to her, talking with her and enjoying the rabbit.

And now, it's time to read Garfield with my son.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Father's Life: Approaching Another Milestone

We got word today from the care facility. My father's not been able to feed himself, and has spoken only a few words today: instead, writing notes to communicate. Someone from hospice called, later, with the additional information that his color isn't as good as it was.

He's bounced back before, but there's a good chance that he will soon die.

I can't say I'm happy about the situation, but there's nothing to be done about the situation: no infection to deal with, no wound to heal.

Happily, #2 daughter and her husband live just a few miles away from him. My son-in-law lost his first wife to cancer, and recognized indications that my father's life is near its end.

I plan to get up to the Red River Valley of the North tomorrow, setting out tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, back here in Sauk Centre, my son's on the computer in the other room, #1 daughter's rabbit is in the kitchen - and has, I see, finished a celery stick - and I'm seeing how much of Friday's work I can do today.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

About Eight Hours After the Wedding

#2 daughter is now married. The wedding itself was about as hitch-free as such things ever are.

#2 daughter looked beautiful; everybody walked to where they were supposed to; the flower girl and ring bearer only needed a little coaching; I didn't trip as #2 daughter and I walked down the aisle; and didn't hit anybody with my cane as I handed her over to my son-in-law.

The party afterward was fine. We were at the Palmer House, downtown - the folks there did a fine job - and spent somewhat between five and six hours eating, dancing, and talking. My wife's family spent part of the time catching up with each other, the rest getting to know my son-in-law's family. His father spent quite a bit of time with my father-in-law and one of the brothers-in-law: talking about hunting and fishing in the latter case - and it's anyone's guess what my father-in-law and he talked about.

I've had a big day - and didn't even have to do much except act on cue. I think the ladies will be resting as hard as they can tomorrow.

After the party, in the van, I went through my usual routine of glancing in the rear view mirror to make sure that everyone was in and the doors closed. I thought, '#2 daughter isn't here yet' - then realized that we've gone through one of those major transitions.

Just Over an Hour Before the Wedding

In one hour and ten minutes it'll be 2:00 in the afternoon: time for #2 daughter's wedding ceremony to start. Right now, I'm staying close to the keyboard - partly to get this written, partly to stay out of the way.

#2 daughter's flitting to and fro, the wife of one of my son-in-law-to-be's friends and their two kids are here, along with an assortment of other people. It's not particularly quiet here.

My wife's just told me that it's time to get dressed. Time to wrap this up and get ready, myself.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wedding Rehearsal Went Well

The wedding rehearsal taught me that I'll have to switch my cane from one hand to the other at one point - and was a learning experience for everyone, I think. Also, a good idea.

The dinner afterward, at the Palmer House, was a nice way to top off the day. And a really good meal. The happy couple got a speech and toast from one of his friends, his father, #1 daughter, and (with merciful brevity) me.

Tomorrow promises to be a really big day. There's an 'official' photographer, but I plan to bring my camera, anyway.

Wedding's Tommorow

#2 daughter's wedding is tomorrow. I met her parents this afternoon, came in to change into a clean shirt, and am now off to a rehearsal of some sort.

Flurried? Yes, a bit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday: #2 Daughter's Off for a Day or Two

#2 daughter left today. She could have slept another night here, but that would have meant a lot more driving. She's visiting friends, I gather, and getting some sort of preparations done. She plans to be back - Friday, I think.

If I seem a bit vague there, you're an astute observer. I haven't been following a great deal of the activity around here lately.

I did, though, spot some dishes that needed washing. That put me in a position to see shifting colors in the dishwater's soap bubbles. That's something I like about the way the world works: if you're looking for it, you'll see beauty just about anywhere.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday: Three Full Days Before the Wedding

After supper today, I went into the living room to be with the rest of the at-home family and do a little exercising. My wife and two daughters started discussing details of who would be doing what, when and how before the wedding, during the event, and afterwords.

I'm in the north room, at what I think is a safe distance, having fed #1 daughter's rabbit an apple core on the way. He had another from me, right after supper. #1 daughter has opined that we feed Giol more than she does: she may be right.

I've finished the Knights of Columbus local council bulletin that I do eleven months out of the year, and got it to the printers. It's back, the ladies labeled it, and are in the process of putting on those little adhesive tabs the Post Office likes to have on such things.

My son's spent some time with Giol - we don't have a formal schedule, but between us we see to it that he gets some up-close-and-personal time at fairly regular intervals. It's not exactly altruism on our part: Between those furry feet, puffy tail, floppy ears and wriggling nose he's a little bundle of 'cute.'

He's also very effective at begging food from us.

#2 daughter is the first of our children to get married. I'm very pleased with the young man she's picked out and looking forward to her moving past another milestone in her life. Even so, it's a huge transition. Yesterday, I realized - again - how agitated I am. Also antsy and nervy: but not, I think, unglued.

And I'm just father of the bride. All I have to do is walk her up the aisle, say a word or two, and later have a short father-daughter dance. I'm, as usual, very impressed at how Catherine is handling things. And #2 daughter, of course.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday: Wedding on Saturday, But No Worries

Well, at least it isn't next month yet. I see the last time I wrote anything here was three weeks ago.

My wife and #2 daughter came back about a half-hour ago, after getting groceries and running errands. A few minutes ago my wife noted that she'd thrown away the medicine and was putting the bag it came in away. After putting the items where they belonged, she decided to take a break.

Yesterday I couldn't find my camera. I asked my wife and kids to keep an eye out for it. Not long after that, one of them spotted the camera: right where I left it. In the laundry basket.

I suppose we're a bit distracted by what's planned for this Saturday: our #2 daughter's wedding.

A few minutes ago I tried on the black suit I'll be wearing. It fits - and looks pretty good, I'm told. My son is trying on his as I write this. At 13, it's a bit more of a learning experience to put on that sort of thing. We're not a particularly formal family.

Most of what we've been doing seems to center around that wedding. My wife gave me a haircut; I trimmed my beard, over-trimming it in a patch the size of my thumbprint - my wife assures me it'll grow over by Saturday; my wife's been putting finishing touches on the wedding dress; and the ladies have been involved in activities that I haven't tried to understand.

Aside from that, I've started putting two cups of sugar water in the hummingbird feeder at roughly weekly intervals. I think I have more clients now. The first hummingbird feeder got set up in April of this year. It was a unit we had in storage here, and not particularly easy for the birds to use, or me to clean. I got another one and set it out in the first part of May. Then, about a month later, I spotted the first hummingbird.

Next year, maybe I'll have some hummingbird-friendly plants around there. It's nice, having those creatures flitting around.

#1 daughter moved her base of operations back to Alexandria, up the road, when classes started this fall. She's spending weekends here, to see her rabbit Giol. And us.

Her rabbit's been moved to the basement, where his 2x4-and-chicken-wire run lend a certain flair to our already-eclectic decor. He's a fine little creature to have around - and has us rather well-trained when it comes to giving him bits of vegetables.

Giol typically spends part of the evening, and weekend afternoons, upstairs with us.

#3 daughter has, among other things, been writing; I've been doing my usual routine of writing micro-reviews of articles and blog posts; posts about Sauk Centre, writing, quick-and-simple outdoor grilling, and making sure to exercise at regular intervals.

Exercising is easier, now that the family has Wii Fit: the program keeps track of when I exercise, and what I weigh; and is designed to alleviate the mind-numbing boredom of, say, running in place for fifteen minutes.

Let's see: I've mentioned the wedding, hummingbirds, the wedding, #1 daughter, the wedding, #3 daughter - - -. I'll come back and add more when I think of it.

One more thing: My son's starting with homeschooling now; which means more paperwork for us. Among other things, we have to demonstrate that we've got the right sort of education, and that his vaccinations are up to date and officially noted.

On his part, he's getting his trombone lubricated. He'll be in - band, I think it is. Something musical at the school, anyway. Friends of his have been over here now and again over the summer, and I understand he's got a system worked out with them for keeping in touch during the school year.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday: Bright and Clear; and #1 Daughter Moved Out

#1 daughter wrapped a wedding present for my wife this morning - for #2 daughter's wedding, actually. She and I had a good talk, then #1 daughter took her rolling suitcase and headed back to Alexandria.

We were in the kitchen while #1 daughter wrapped the gift, and I fixed my breakfast. Sprocket stood between us, whipping his head back and forth, as if in an effort to give 100% attention to both.

It's the start of school, soon, and it's very reasonable for her to be up there. Still, it's been very good having her under the roof.

Between #1 daughter moving back to Alexandria, and #2 daughter getting married in less than a month: there are a lot of transitions going on.

#1's rabbit is staying here, for the time being. Which is okay: He's a quite creature.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday: A Phone Call

Around mid-morning today I answered the phone. It was my father, up in the Red River Valley of the north. He wanted to know if there was anything wrong, and if we'd tried to call him.

I assured him that we were okay, focusing, for some reason, on Sprocket the dog and Giol the rabbit. I also assured him that, to the best of my knowledge, nobody here had tried to call him.

He was reassured. It's not easy, the situation he's in. He described it as 'driving around in a car I don't own, looking for my wife - going to a house where I don't live.' That's a paraphrase. I can't remember the exact words.

We didn't talk for long. His lungs are barely adequate for getting oxygen into him when he stays quite still. Talking is a bit like running a marathon, in terms of exertion.

I'm glad he called, though.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday: Walking the Dog

My wife, son, and #3 daughter got back from Soo Bahk Do about a half hour ago, and I'm wrapping up my tasks here at the computer.

Coborn's grocery, a few blocks south, is having a 'kid's week' promotion - today's events included a sort of parade at 10:00 a.m. I got down there with a camera and may have gotten some decent photos. The parade consisted of a couple dozen children - some with a wagon or something similar - following someone in a purple cow costume around the parking lot.

It looked like they were having fun.

#1 daughter picked a bucket-full of cherries today. This year we're getting to them before the birds do. I had one: delicious. They're rather tart, but that's fine with me.

This evening, while the others were at Soo Bahk Do, I decided to try going on a walk with Sprocket, my son-in-law-to-be's dog. #1 daughter knew where the leash was, so she got it connected.

The walk went quite well. Sprocket definitely wanted to walk faster than I could - but he apparently figured out that I was at top speed, and adjusted his pace accordingly.

Walking a dog is not like walking a cat. Sprocket was quite willing to go left, right, straight ahead, or stop, in response to light pressure on the leash.

He would have been very willing to keep heading south when we reached the Lake Wobegon Trail, but willingly turned around after we stood there a few minutes. He wasn't straining at the leash so much on the way back, though.

And, now, it's time to read Garfield with my son.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday: #2 Daughter's Wedding is Now at One Month and Counting

#2 daughter will, if all goes as planned, be married one month from today. Even though I'm safely out of the loop when it comes to preparations, I'm still feeling the urgency.

My wife has the dress made, almost: The next steps require #2 daughter's presence, and she's headed to Louisiana with my son-in-law-to-be. Why, I'm not exactly sure: but I'm sure it's a good reason.

Meanwhile, we have his dog, Sprocket, to take care of. He's a big, over-bred, friendly sheepdog. My wife and #3 daughter worked out a method by which he can be staked out in the back yard without one of us being attached to the other end of a leash. It's a mutually satisfactory arrangement. He seems to like just being outside, without needing to move around all that much.

The kids have been taking turns, giving him walks - so he should be getting enough exercise.

#1 daughter's rabbit, Giol, is taking the presence of Sprocket pretty well, all things considered. Fur on Giol's back stood up for a few minutes this evening, when my son and Sprocket were playing - Sprocket made some growling sounds in the course of the play.

Giol relaxed soon after that, though.

Last night was the first night Sprocket stayed here. He gave voice at intervals throughout the late evening. I'd hardly call it a howl: the sound is quite musical.

The charm of Sprocket's voice started wearing a bit thin around midnight, though. He did eventually settle down, happily.

It'll be interesting to see how tonight goes.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday: Another Week in Fast-Forward

As if with a whizzing sound, another week went by.

Wedding preparations are keeping my wife and #2 daughter busy: I've been staying out of the way, for the most part. I've been on my usual routine of researching and writing, and #1 daughter has been winding up her summer job. School's coming up, and she'll be back at her commercial art studies soon.

#2 daughter gave my son a haircut Thursday. He's used to my wife doing that, and was none too confident at first. He's okay with the results, though.

To my considerable satisfaction, I saw hummingbirds Thursday and Friday. Saturday I cleaned and re-filled the feeder, and I haven't seen them since. I haven't been looking out there either, so there could be a swarm of them for all I know.

#2 daughter and I spent the bulk of Friday afternoon going to St. Cloud, picking out a black suit for me to wear at her wedding, and getting a few things for her dress. I enjoyed spending those hours with her.

One of my brothers-in-law got a job in Iraq. He has a broad range of marketable skills, but his jobs tend to be elsewhere than Minnesota.

Stearns County Fair started Wednesday - or Thursday, depending on what milestone you choose to use as a marker. I've been over, taking a few photos and getting what I hope can be made into a short video.

#1 daughter has been over, too, several times. She impressed someone at the Conservation barn: she was able to identify many of the skins they had there.

#1 daughter went to the fair again Saturday. She reports that the Conservation barn is temporary home to a couple of (very cute) baby raccoons. She also went on a few rides: and came back with a bag of kettle corn. She says what she gets at the fair is by far better than what's available in stores. I suspect that, with the high turnover of inventory at the fair, their kettle corn is by far fresher.

I've grilled burgers yesterday and today, in company with #1 daughter and her rabbit, Giol. The rabbit's inside, as I write this: getting some of his 'people time' for the day, and being inside where it's a bit cooler.

One of my wife's sisters was over for a while this afternoon: probably here for the fair.

#3 daughter has been doing something or other this week: writing, I think. Also enjoying this time with #2 daughter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rape on the Lake Wobegon Trail: Good News/Bad News

This may not make the news, at least for a while, but yesterday a 14-year-old girl was raped on the Lake Wobegon Trail. She made identification of her assailant easier, by giving him a bloody nose.

Subsequent to the assault, she flagged down a local priest, who had a cell phone. Her cell phone was inoperable. The local priest called law enforcement, and police apprehended the alleged assailant (I trust that's cautious enough for American usage).

My wife called a family conference a few minutes ago, updated all of us on the events, and outlined changes in routines and procedures which are now necessary. We live within a block of the Lake Wobegon Trail.

Good news: The alleged assailant was apprehended, and may be discouraged from committing assaults in the future. And, the 14-year-old girl was able to get assistance in a timely fashion.

Bad news: This is 'small town America,' but we've got the same issues that the rest of America faces. Being on the Interstate and having a bike trail connection to larger population centers probably doesn't help.

I'm not one bit happy about this situation. I could maunder on about 'loss of innocence' and 'the good old days' - but the first is beyond recall, and I've got too good a memory to fall for the idea that 'Things Were Better When I Was Young.' They were different: but I'm not at all convinced that, for example, sniffing paint was better than burning out on meth.

Finally, I've redacted some details.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Found: One Affectionate, Rather Hungry, Cat

Update: 3:53 p.m. July 24, 2009

That didn't take long: Those are photos of Max, who was lost three months ago, up in Alexandria. That's 20 miles away, but Max's family lived near the Lake Wobegon Trail's rail line - and so do we. It's not hard to imagine a cat making his way down that trail.

Max will be returning to a household of three dogs and two (now three) cats: and a lot of attention. They'll have quite a lot of catching up to do.

We connected with Max's owners through a poster in Pets Galore, on Nokomis, in Alexandra: a new-since-last-year (I think) pet store.

- - - - -

Here's what this post said, before we contacted Max's owners:

A cat showed up in our yard today: quite obviously someone's pet, and quite unfamiliar to us. He's a neutered male, quite affectionate - and/or realized that we'd provide a meal and attention, if properly approached.

He's in good shape: if he's lost he's either very good at finding food on his own, or hasn't been gone for very long. At this moment, he's sharing the garage with my oldest daughter's rabbit, Giol. Giol has been trying to sniff the cat, through the chicken wire of his enclosure. I'm not sure how the cat's been reacting to Giol.

We're hoping that we can re-connect this fellow with his family. There's someone in Alexandria, who lost a cat that looks a great deal like this one: but that's 20 miles away, a rather long walk for a cat.

If you recognize our foundling, please leave a comment on this post. We'll work out a way of making contact.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Know it's Hectic When - - -

There's a set of programs the family likes to watch, Monday evenings: "Phineas and Ferb," and "Aaron Stone," both on a Disney channel.

For the last two - make that three - weeks, we've remembered the shows: on Tuesday or Wednesday.

There's a reasonable explanation for these memory lapses, I think: More about that in an earlier post: "Wednesday: Hectic, But a Good Sort of Hectic."

Ah: I see there's a cousin here. #3 daughter's 'identical cousin,' specifically.

Wednesday: Hectic, But a Good Sort of Hectic

Good grief, it's over a week since I wrote here. I've been doing my usual work: researching and writing. And, getting a Knights of Columbus bulletin out for the local council. I finished the postal paperwork for one today.

The big deal was me going up to the Red River Valley of the North for the better part of two days: Wednesday the 15th and Thursday the 16th. I visited my father for a while, and spent the rest of the time at the homestead, where my son-in-law-to-be is setting things up. He and #2 daughter plan to live there after they're married, this September.

He's gotten a respectable set of plantings in the greenhouse, including herbs. He's a better-than-pretty-good cook, and introduced me to more Cajun cookery while I was there.

#2 daughter, my son, and my son-in-law-to-be came/returned Sunday night. My son's still here, but #2 daughter and son-in-law-to-be left this afternoon. She's involved in the wedding of one of her friends. I think she's providing music: She took her violin, at any rate.

#1 daughter's rabbit has settled into a new enclosure in the garage: a more secure, and better-ventilated arrangement of chicken fence wire and two by fours than the cardboard walls he had for a while.

#2 daughter's just about finished with her wedding invitations, #3 daughter's practicing her music - which is a delight to hear - and my son's come back from the Red River Valley of the North.

It's been good to have the kids under one roof for a while.

Also, a bit hectic. But a good sort of hectic.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gone Fishing

Today, after a day spent in routine matters and helping one of my brothers-in-law install new storm doors, my wife, #2 daughter and #3 daughter went fishing with my brother-in-law. They spent most of the evening on Birch Lake, east of here. #2 daughter landed a 20-inch northern: the largest fish she's caught.

They had a great time. #1 daughter came home from a business-related trip to St. Cloud. She and I had supper, after which I got some Wii-Fit exercising in. That's a good program, in terms of providing reinforcement for non-fanatic exercisers like me.

Where Did the Last Week Go?

It's been over a week since I posted anything here. Quite a bit has gone on, but it's hard to pin down details in my memory. #2 daughter's upcoming wedding might have something to do with it.

My son had a friend over on a few successive days, after which he went up to the Red River Valley of the North, to spend more time with my son-in-law-to-be.

He nearly wound up in Montana.

#1 daughter drove him and her rabbit Giol up to the Valley, and was unaware that she needed to get on Interstate Highway 29, northbound, after passing Fargo. As some point, as she and my son past across the vast expanses of North Dakota, she realized that they hadn't reached their destination - and that things weren't all that familiar.

Prudently, she called home. (Cell phones: ain't technology great?!)

I calmly (for me) explained exactly what she needed to do, and had her repeat the instructions. Slowly. I had visions of the next call being from the vicinity of Brandon, Manitoba, or Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Or maybe Billings, Montana.

As she put it, "there's a lot of 'not much' out there - it took a while to notice that things weren't looking familiar."

They got to their destination without further incident. Then, the next morning, the rabbit Giol escaped. #1 daughter woke to my son informing her that the rabbit had escaped, and that he and my son-in-law-to-be thought he might be outside.

They were right. By the time #1 daughter was dressed and downstairs, Giol was found - in the vicinity of 'the hill,' a mound about seven feet high near the northwest corner of the homestead.

Sprocket, my son-in-law-to-be's dog, found him. That was not a serene rabbit.

Giol was also a bit damp. Sprocket had licked him.

Sprocket likes Giol: but the rabbit doesn't seem to appreciate the affection.

Before #1 daughter returned, the three of them had rigged a rope to an old cottonwood tree - and my son had swung upside-down from a rather elevated portion of the rope.

#1 daughter had a ride on the rope (it's a sort of zipline affair, I understand) - but probably didn't enjoy it as much as my son did. She tells me that she took a minute or so to release the rope and unbend after being lowered to the ground. My son, at one point after she'd been deposited on the grass, said "she blinked!"

My wife and assorted daughters helped the Soo Bahk Do class at a fund-raiser at a horse show's food concession over the weekend, I've been to a Knights of Columbus meeting, and #1 daughter and my wife finished building a rabbit run for Giol. It's a wood frame and chicken wire affair sitting in the garage: Giol seems to like it. He can see out now, and has a bit more floor space to work with.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Whizzing Wednesday, an Identical Cousin, and a Desk in the Attic

Wednesday whizzed by, as far as I was concerned. Getting caught up from that unplanned 'vacation' from the Internet had me unusually concentrated on getting things done.

I did notice that #3 daughter's 'identical cousin' was here that day. Those two look more alike than any two of our children, and they get along famously.

Thursday, I discovered that my wife and #3 daughter had cleared my desk up in the attic. It's a piece of plywood supported by a filing cabinet at one end, and a set of 2x4 legs at the other: and serves my purposes very well.

I was touched by that bit of organizing. I'd mentioned, a few days ago, that I planned to get more work done up there, after I found a way to set up a workspace. My idea was that some time, probably next year, I'd have gotten my weight down and flexibility up enough so that I could rig some sort of drafting table.

And here, those two ladies got that desk in shape for use: complete with a quite sufficiently comfortable chair.


I spent some time up there this afternoon, getting some research done: much easier now that I had a place to put the books, a place to make my notes, and a fluorescent desk lamp to shed light on the process.

Also Wednesday, I started using a Wii Fit set that #3 daughter bought: At this point, in terms of readily-available assets, she's got more money than I do. Which is fine.

I exercised using the gadget again today: it gives pretty good feedback, and tracks progress (or lack of same). I'm actually looking forward to using it again. Being able to improve my performance over a 24-hour period helped, I think.

My son-in-law-to-be left for the Red River Valley of the North today. Among other things, he's a little concerned about his dog, Sprocket. Sprocket is in the care of a conscientious and reliable 12-year-old. The conscientious and reliable part doesn't worry my soon-to-be-in-law. It's the 12-year old aspect of the situation, I gather.

#2 daughter has been talking on the phone to someone for quite a while, and she's still at it. My guess is that it's Sprocket's and her guy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday: #2 Daughter and Son-in-Law-to-be and Hummingbirds

Yesterday evening my wife called a family meeting, and outlined what she wants us to do for the rest of this month, through #2 daughter's wedding in early September. She went into some detail, including two task lists: one for the morning, another which could be done at any time - daily. What it all boiled down to was that she was going to be quite stressed enough over preparations for the wedding, and (reasonably enough) wanted help.

I see her point. Among other things, she's making the wedding dress.

Last Thursday, I stayed up late, so there would be someone to let #1 daughter in. She was in another town, on job-related business. When she got back, I learned that she had a house key. As Manuel said, in Fawltey Towers, "I learn! I learn!"

Friday, my son came home from his three weeks (about that) at the farm. He was glad he'd been there, and glad to be home. He also was quite excited about his new (PDA, I think: some hand-held information technology gadget). My youngest brother-in-law had driven the two of them down here, and stayed to work on our front door.

Saturday, #1 daughter reported that the "neighbor lady" had called her. Our neighbor had seen Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, outside. We'd had the garage door open, to provide some ventilation, and he'd gotten out of his enclosure inside the garage. He's gotten rather good at that. #1 daughter located Giol, waited for an opportune moment, scooped him up and returned him to his safe, if somewhat dull, enclosure.

Also on Saturday, I learned that my son was impressed with the size of the mosquitoes in the Red River Valley of the North. I know what he means: the ones we've got here in central Minnesota are rather puny by comparison.

Saturday night, Giol got out of his enclosure again. This time the door was closed, so he didn't get outside. We discovered his accomplishment Sunday morning. He obliged my wife by nibbling on what she gave him, but wouldn't eat for #1 daughter. My wife noticed that Giol wasn't doing his "happy dance" when she came with his food.

#1 daughter was quite concerned. Not being interested in food is emphatically not normal for that rabbit.

Then, she discovered that Giol had gotten at a bag of rabbit pellets. There was a substantial portion left, but he'd probably gone through at least a day's worth of food during the night.

No wonder he wasn't all that hungry.

Monday evening, at 6:33 a hummingbird came to the feeder and stayed for several seconds, dipping that beak into the sugar-water mix several times before flitting off. I'm quite sure there have been other visits: the 'nectar' level was down considerably since the last time I filled it.

Today, I took the feeder in, cleaned and refilled it, and put it out again. I also washed a few dishes with the water I'd used.

#1 daughter is off to Alexandria to get some of her own business done: this month's installment of a comic strip she's producing. Our scanner is temporarily on the fritz, so she'll be using the one in her apartment.

I returned a wireless router to Wal-Mart this afternoon, and got a full refund. That's good news. The unit was 'left over' from the time my computer's network card failed. While I was there, I had a talk with Ron, in the electronics department, and may have found a way to get my scanner working again.

Now, daughters #2 and 3, my son, and son-in-law-to-be are in the living room, having what sounds like a great time with a Wii #2 daughter bought with part of a sort of windfall: an insurance settlement from that head-on collision she and my wife were in.

As for me, it's late and I need sleep. 'And so, to bed.'

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday: A Rabbit's Playpen, and Sunset

Yesterday's weather was bright, and hot: but mentally, I was fogged in. I got some research and writing done, put a fan in the attic window and relaxed up there for a while, doing some reading (Walt Kelly's Pogo), and getting some pen-and-paper work done.

My wife, #1 daughter, and #3 daughter got the window air conditioner set up in the north room: which was a fine idea. The north room and kitchen are comfortable, and the living room is cooler and dryer than the outdoors.

I expected that I'd fall asleep quickly, considering how tired I felt: but that didn't happen. Oh, well: I've read that the occasional touch of insomnia isn't something to be concerned about.

Today was warm, and humid, so I went out and put in some time at my former employer's. One of their websites needs updating, and I seem to be their first choice.

#1 daughter has had her rabbit, Giol, inside for much of yesterday, and most of today. His 'home' in the garage allows him to lie down with a concrete floor under him, and what for him is a concrete wall to lean on, but there's a limit to how much a fur-covered creature can cool off.

My wife came up with an excellent idea for keeping Giol out of the way.

Simplicity itself: Place laundry basket on floor; place rabbit in laundry basket. Result: instant rabbit playpen.

Then, the rabbit realizes how easy it will be to jump out.

Putting another laundry basked, upside down, on top of the first worked quite well: until Giol learned that he could push the top one off. #1 daughter eventually used duct tape to fasten the top on.

I've gotten my blog research and writing done for the day, enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and now it's time to call it a day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday: Father's Day 2009 - Surprising my Wife

When my wife came back from church today, she shouted "Happy Father's Day" up the stairs. It was about a quarter to noon, and she apparently expected me to be still in bed.

I wasn't: Which she discovered as she rounded the corner into the kitchen, and saw me in the north room, at (what else?) the computer.

Now, I'm going up to spend a little time relaxing in a lazy boy chair in the attic, reading. It's been a good day.

Sunday: Father's Day 2009

It's around mid-afternoon as I write this. It's been overcast and raining most of the day. We need the rain, and it wasn't heavy enough to keep me from grilling: so that's okay.

I went to church yesterday afternoon with #1 daughter, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday morning my wife and #3 daughter set out for the Red River Valley of the North, to visit my father. Also #2 daughter, my son-in-law-to-be, and my son. They returned Saturday evening. I'm told they had a very satisfactory visit.

I stayed here, with #1 daughter, to get caught up after being unable to update my blogs last week. I'm just about there, and should be entirely caught up some time late tomorrow.

Right after church yesterday, #1 daughter took her Cutco demonstration kit and kept an appointment she'd set up earlier. I read my wife's instructions, heated a pocket sandwich she's left, and had my supper.

#1 daughter came home quite a bit later - after which she ate and we watched a "Star Wars" animated series we enjoy, and a few episodes of the old "He Man and the Masters of the Universe" cartoon series. The original one.

In both cases, they're far from Shakespeare's league: but they're fun.

I stayed in this morning, giving #1 daughter and I a chance to watch another Bleach episode. We seem to be watching quite a few cartoons, now that I look back.

I grilled burgers - not incinerating them - and enjoyed the receipt of Father's Day greetings from my wife, #3 daughter, and #1 daughter. Also a DVD of "El Dorado" - yet another cartoon - and four skewers. The latter from #1 daughter. She opined that I might like to grill kebabs some time.

Sounds like a topping idea.

Which brings me up, more or less, to the present.

I've also cleaned and re-filled the hummingbird feeder, seen several hummingbirds (or perhaps the same one several times), and - not at all unimportantly - relaxed this weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday: Thunderstorms, Hail, and a Tornado Watch

Minnesota's weather is not boring. Right now, we're in a tornado watch, and will be for another hour and twenty minutes - unless the Weather Service lifts the watch.

Thunderstorms have been going by, dropping much-needed rain.

Part of the after-storm show, 9:23 p.m., Sauk Centre, Minnesota

And, about 10 miles down the road, hail.

"06/18/2009 0307 PM

"2 miles S of Osakis, Douglas County.

"Hail e0.88 inch, reported by trained spotter." Local Storm Report On
I didn't see any hail in the neighborhood, but that's not surprising. Hail's even more localized than thunderstorm cells. Can't say that I feel left out. Chunks of ice as big across as an American nickel are a phenomenon I wouldn't want to get up close and personal with.

"It Could be Worse," as We Say in Minnesota

Austin, Minnesota, south of the Twin Cities, had a bad night yesterday. According to the police chief, three tornadoes went through the area.

The good news is that someone's lacerated hand, bad enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, was the worst injury, and nobody was killed.

The bad news is that 15 or 20 homes were damaged, around 600 trees ripped down in the city parks, and millions of dollars damage done to homes and businesses.

It doesn't look like we'll be seeing anything like that here, tonight. There's just over twenty minutes left in the watch as I'm wrapping this up: and nothing really close, apart from a clump of rain on the other side of Alexandria, some 20 miles west by northwest.

Austin, Minnesota, Tornado Video

I checked out YouTube, and found this collection of video clips taken by a storm chaser near Austin, Minnesota, last night. The video is quite striking, and the language of the people with the storm chaser fairly mild by contemporary standards.

"06 17 09 Storm Chase - Austin, MN"

BradNelson100, YouTube (June 17, 2009)
video 2:29

View Larger Map

In the news:

Thursday: Back Online, Finally

I had a one day, 21 hour, and about five minute, 'vacation' from the Internet.

Not by choice.

Tuesday afternoon, about ten minutes after four, I was writing a post for another blog. A little after that, I noticed that I couldn't get a web page to load. It didn't take long to discover that I couldn't reach anything on the Internet.

I checked this household's telephone and television connections: they were fine. We get all three through one company, and the signals come through one line.

Just the same, I called the company.

Or, more accurately, called a company. After a while, I discovered that I was talking with the wrong outfit, and opened a dialog with our Internet provider.

The good news was that there were no service problems in our area: and that my modem seemed to be in good shape.

The bad news was that we got a 'communication error' code from my computer's network card. Which meant that the problem was something I'd have to fix.

By now it was Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, I called the local Wal-Mart and had a talk with Ron, in the electronics department. He gave the opinion that it might be my router: which was likely enough, considering its age. So, I went in and bought a router. It took me a few minutes to find one, since the design has changed since I got mine. (I'd been looking at the photos on the boxes, not the lettering.)

Technical digression: this router is a device that connects all three working computers in the house to each other, and to the Internet. I set it up so that the kids wouldn't be asking me to use the 'business' computer for getting online. Quite as often.

Back home, I opened the box, read the instructions, and started the installation process. The first message I got, after acknowledging the standard software agreement, was that the setup program couldn't find a working network card.

So, it probably wasn't the router, and almost certainly was the network card. I didn't return the new router, since I wasn't convinced that two pieces of hardware wouldn't stop working at the same time.

I went back to Wal-Mart, had a face-to-face talk with Ron, and discovered that they didn't have any network cards in stock. That particular store had cleared out their stock. If my card had failed just a little earlier, I could have gotten a bargain.

A phone call to Computer Specialists, up in Alexandria, told me that the "network card" in my computer was an integrated part of the mother board. It couldn't be replaced, but if I opened the computer, I'd find slots available for a new network card. One of which they had.

Happily, #1 daughter had to go to Alexandria Wednesday afternoon, so by yesterday evening, we had a new network card.

That we couldn't fit in the computer.

We'd gotten the case open, vacuumed out a little dust that had accumulated, #1 daughter removed a sticker that would soon have fallen off one of the internal fans, and determined where the new network card should go.

It. Just. Wouldn't. Fit.

So, #1 daughter suggested that we take out a card that had been used for phone and USB connections, but was not now in use. The new card should fit in its slot.

The operative word there is "should."

It didn't. The new card almost fit, but there was a less-than-a-millimeter's difference between part of the new card, and the slot it was supposed to fit into.

Today, Thursday, we tried again. More accurately, #1 daughter tried again. I prudently stayed out of her way and didn't try to "help."

She called Computer Specialists, had a chat with one of the technicians there, and learned that any of the open slots could be used. Also, that the slots, although they looked alike, didn't all have the same dimensions.

A few minutes later, she had the new card in place.

Skipping over more technical details, and the process of putting the computer back where it's stays on this desk, at 1:15 today we got our first working connection to the Internet.

The elapsed time since the network card's failure, once again, was: one day, 21 hours, and about five minutes.

Then, we discovered that #1 daughter's computer couldn't find the Internet.

Two of the cables weren't attached the way that they had been, before. That was a quick fix, and now we have a working system.

And, I've got almost two day's worth of work to catch up on.

That 'vacation' was probably a good thing, though. I spent quite a few hours of it up in the attic, getting re-acquainted with the book collection, admiring the re-organization that's being done by #1 daughter and others, and doing some long-overdue book-and-notebook research and creative work.

My wife, bless her, told me that seeing me in the old lazy boy up there was a "Father Knows Best" image: all I lacked was a pipe.

Now, back to catching up.
Unique, innovative candles
Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

On Twitter, I'm Aluwir